Sunday, July 31, 2016


I've been spoiled.  I vacationed with my mom and dad in California for about a week—just me and my parents!  To be sure, I wasn't entirely burdensome.  I offered to pay for our meals on several occasions, only to be turned down.  I played the role of navigator when my dad found that even his trusty 2015 atlas couldn't guide him through California's labyrinth.  I provided the music playlists, which featured an equal number of Dad's favorites and Mom's favorites.  We heard quite a bit of James Taylor and Pat Benatar.

But anyway, here's the lowdown on our trip.  The pictures speak for themselves, of course.


Where we ate:

Pier Market, Pier 39 in San Francisco: I consider myself a soup-in-a-bread-bowl aficionado.  Thus, I was pleased to find that Pier Market's famous clam chowder in a sourdough was fresh, flavorful, and hearty.  I even ate some of my mom's calamari, which I normally find disgusting. 

Dim Sum, Chinatown in San Francisco: I actually can't remember what the place was called, but the food was delicious.  Some of the dishes tasted just like they did when I was a little kid, and some tasted better.  A man at the table next to us ordered chicken feet—they still looked horrible. 
My absolute favorite dish is the white bun. 

During the drive:

Much of our drive was quite a bit depressing.  The landscape was dry, brown, and dusty.  We passed a lot of towns that were abandoned or nearly so.  We even passed a town's sign that read: ClOSED—BEAT IT. (Okay, that was funny.)

We passed this sign.  Gobbi is my unfortunate childhood nickname.  I feel sorry for the street. 

A shoe tree that seems too absurd to be real.  

Where we visited:

Mammoth Lake, California.  We found a secluded spot with a perfect view of the lake and the mountains.  The colors of the sky and the water were beautiful.

Yosemite, California.  This was my first time going to Yosemite.  Although the national park was insanely crowded, and half of China seemed to be there, the sites were undeniably some of the most breathtaking I've ever seen.

San Francisco, California.  Apparently, I visited San Francisco when I was a kid, but I don't remember anything.  This trip was really fun, and like Yosemite, it was crowded.  It's a good thing my dad was driving in the city because I would have crashed and died.  California drivers seem much more... aggressive.  We visited Pier 39, Golden Gate Park, Ghirardelli Square, and Chinatown.  I think I was most excited for but shocked by Chinatown.  I didn't expect it to be so crowded and smelly and dirty and strange.  But their food is good. 

Gorgeous view from Lombard Street.  I can't imagine why the city thought this curvy street of death was a good idea.

Love this picture of the bridge peaking through the fog. 

 Golden Gate National Cemetery, California.  This is the largest cemetery I've seen in my life.  The worker said that there were well over 100,000 people buried here, all who fought in a war at one point.  My dad learned that his grandfather was buried here, so we paid a visit.

 Redwood National Forest, CA.  This was my favorite place.  When I walked into areas of the forest where the tree trunks were wider than my car, and branches towered above my head, it felt almost sacred and sublime.  The forest was peaceful, quiet, and I wish I could build a wigwam and live there.

Massive massive tree trunk!

 Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.  This park was breathtaking, too.  We learned about the history of the land, volcanic eruptions, and we saw several huge rocks that were flung during eruptions.

<3 <3 <3 

One of my favorite pictures at Lake Helen. 

It's hard to tell in the picture, but this was a hot, boiling mud pot/spring.  It reeked of sulphur, and it was creepy.  Monsters go swimming in there. 
Virginia City, Nevada. I was excited to visit this town because I used to watch Bonanza, but this place was crude, forgettable, ugly, and gross.  But we were there, so...there.

What we watched:

I can also say that I provided some evening entertainment for my family.  After a long day of walking in cities and national parks, we watched Downton Abbey at our hotel before we went to bed.  


Again, the pictures speak better of the trip than I can.  I suppose there's nothing left to say but THANK YOU Mom and Dad for letting me crash yet another one of your vacations! You can expect it again ;) 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Popsicle in July.

I told my friend from AZ that I was tired of the heat.  I feel like a popsicle that's perpetually melting, and all of my juicy goodness is dripping away.  I should have known better than to complain, especially after experiencing Phoenix heat.  My friend explained how she left raw cookie dough in her car while she went to work.  When she finished her shift, there were baked cookies on her dashboard.

Despite the heat, this month has been busy, emotional, crazy, but fun.

We actually kicked off July on a bittersweet note.  Brigham recently left for his mission in Quito, Equador.  He is currently learning Spanish in the Mexico City MTC.  For a while, I didn't even like it when people talked about Brigham.  I felt like a crater had been blasted into my heart.  I miss him so much, and I am proud of the example he is setting for our family.

Our 4th of July started with a bang, of course.  We had three nights of fireworks in a row.  We went to Provo to see the fireworks that accompanied the Stadium of Fire show.  We also watched Manti's fireworks on Temple Hill.  On my favorite night, our dear neighbors put on a show for the block.  My neighbor joked that I should write about how the box tipped over, fireworks came flying at us, and they broke a window.  Needless to say, it wasn't our neighbor's fault, and it was the most exhilarating night of my life.  As everyone was screaming and running away, I thought I could hear my mom muttering, "Made in China. Of course."

I went fishing with my dad.  We found a new fishing hole that's up Ephraim Canyon, but until he got his truck, he was unable to get the steep, sandy terrain.  This fishing hole is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  The weather is perfect, the air smells delicious, and tall, colorful trees surround the spot.  The fishing is great, too.  After experimenting with a couple different baits, we constantly got bites and left with our limit of four fishes, each.

Can't get over how amazing that view is.
On July 11th, I had the pleasure of getting my wisdom teeth removed.  I didn't even know I had wisdom teeth until I went to the dentist a couple months ago.  The surgery went quite well, and I vowed that I would leave the office with dignity.  But against my previous wishes, my mom recorded me in my drunken stupor.  Apparently, I managed to conduct a symphony, I said a bad word and apologized for it, and I talked about my research and philosophy.  And to top off the ordeal, my dad showed the video to his colleagues at work.

I've made a lot of progress on my thesis.  The process is just slow.  I have a great thesis chair who has been helping me with every step.  Whenever I send him my work, he says that my claim still needs sharpening.  And even when I feel like I have sharpened my claim so that I've fashioned a weapon, he asks that I sharpen even more (see my favorite memes below: my motivation vs. my reality). I've been thinking about my roles as a student and a teacher.  When I read my students' work, I am able to determine if their thesis requires narrowing immediately.  But the beauty of my program is that I still have learning to do, and when I have a hard time seeing how my thesis can possibly be narrowed down, I have great teachers and mentors who help me.  I tell my parents constantly—I have learned more in one full year of grad school than in all of my years getting my undergraduate degree.

Last on July's forecast: Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, San Francisco, Redwood National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Great Basin National Park.  

I cannot wait to share stories and pictures after our trip!